Winner of the First Horizon Award for superior work by a debut author.


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A Day In the Life

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I walk to work this morning, as I did yesterday and the day before and so on; passing throngs of tourists, all bouncing around in a sleepy sway from one block to the next, while some collide and others stride toward this building and that. I’m eager to get to work and sit in silence for awhile, stare at a computer and listen to my Pandora radio. Then, cutting through the cemetery by the church to avoid the traffic on Broadway, I pass tombstones that have been still for hundreds of years. A thought occurs to me as I glance around and walk and talk to myself:

A lazy mist hangs like daytime spirits in the air around us.

I decide that I like this line, so I send a text message to myself without slowing my stride to record the thought, hoping it’s enough to jog my memory later on when I have time to flesh it out. I continue my walk through the cemetery, then quickly cross Broadway to pass through the pedestrian swarm once again. Thoughts run around in my mind as my busy feet smack the dirty pavement for a few more blocks toward my building.

Could be a line from the narrator in the new novel. No character would say it but it would definitely match some of the other narrative observations of the story. But where in the story does it fit? Definitely not the first scene…

I finally arrive at work and check my email. Then, make a few phone calls. We sit down as a group and discuss the workload for the week. I can’t stop thinking about daytime spirits but I try to tune it out at least until the meeting is over. But, self control has never been a strong quality of mine:

Could be before that scene with the thunderstorm. Mist is always a solid precursor to rain and it could predict the conflict that follows the scene.

A conference call has been scheduled for 1:30PM. I print out some relevant material and participate in the call. But, someone on the call comments on the weather and I’m back to thoughts on daytime spirits:

The word “spirits” provides good imagery for the themes of the story. Of course, “daytime spirits” are much less confrontational than “nighttime spirits.” Make sure the weather is not entirely bleak and dark, some sort of in-between. I like the image it conjures up.

I finish the call, and then send a few emails. Finish up an analysis and send it out to the group.

I imagine overcast, but with a break in the clouds somewhere behind her. Groups of people struggle with too many umbrellas and too little space to maneuver around with them. Ahead, it almost looks like a black tarp stretched across the buildings uptown.

Incorporate feedback on analysis and make edits. Send new draft. Boss gives the virtual thumbs-up. Why has no one invented a symbol on the computer to convey thumbs-up? Maybe I should invent it and live off the royalties. Send analysis to client while thinking of how to invent thumbs-up symbol for computers.

Then, the thunderstorm. Trash cans overflow with discarded umbrellas. Wind thrusts itself around buildings. New scene, the weather has worsened. Time for a confrontation. She knows it as soon as she steps outside.

The day is over a little later than expected, as usual, so I have my usual thought about why I expect to get out earlier when I never do. I walk home alongside a slightly sleepier, tamer city.

I hope I remember it all. I didn’t have any time today to type it up or write it down. There’s only the one remnant of all these thoughts; that brief line about daytime spirits in my cell phone. At least I have that.

I walk the dog with my husband and we talk about our day. He smiles and I remember why I go to work in the first place. Then, he makes dinner and I watch, having never developed the skill of boiling water or frying eggs or roasting a chicken, for example. Its movie night, so we turn on the latest from our queue. Despite my best intentions, I begin to doze off in the middle, my thoughts like an overcast sky and I wonder about daytime spirits and all the little secrets I have yet to dream up about it.